Defiant Eamon O’Shea blames Tipp’s ‘huge desire’ for shock Limerick loss
Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea has blamed anxiety and a lack of composure in the closing stages for Sunday’s Munster SHC semi-final defeat to Limerick.
Having digested events at Semple Stadium over the course of 24 hours, O’Shea went on local radio last night to express his view that the team’s “huge desire” to win may in fact have cost them the game.
O’Shea said he was “disappointed with the performance” and described the drop-off in levels from the NHL final defeat to Kilkenny as “surprising”.
Searching for the reasons behind Tipp’s fourth consecutive championship defeat, O’Shea admitted that the Premier County should have closed out the game when three points ahead.
He told Tipp FM: “We had little bits and pieces where we could have gone four points up but we got anxious close to the end.
“We made poor shot selections and hit a number of balls into the goalie’s hand which allowed them to have a platform. We certainly weren’t composed.
“We did tense a bit in terms of what we wanted from the game and as the game closed out.
“Some of that anxiousness comes from a desire to win – we have a huge desire to win and to get over the line. I do think sometimes it restricts some players. These players are very focused on winning and maybe we were too focused on winning.”
O’Shea also admitted that he may have to reassess Brendan Maher’s role as a sweeping centre-back, after Donal O’Grady drifted away from the Tipp captain to score two massive second-half points.
O’Shea explained: “When we’re playing the system we’re trying to play, when he pulls out he needs to be certainly picked up, the No 11.
“We probably left a bit too much space for him to move out to.
“Brendan was protecting the area, which was his job. Tactically you could look at whether you send out the centre-back with the No 11 when he moves out, but we should have picked up more around midfield. Whether that’s them winning the tactical battle or not… sometimes that happens twice in quick succession, which makes it very obvious.”
“But no one thing wins or loses a game. I just don’t think we were consistent about the way we went about our business – we hurled in fits and starts and when you’re playing a championship you have to hurl with more consistency and intensity.”
O’Shea reiterated his belief that Tipp are in a transitional phase but he is expecting a positive response in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
He said: “I’m convinced that this team will take a step forward again in a short period. But there will be ups and downs in terms of transition within the team.
“We had seven different players starting yesterday who didn’t play last year against Limerick.”
A defiant O’Shea added: “I would certainly challenge the view of Tipperary out there, and certainly challenge some of the views that are out there in terms of the Tipperary players.
“In terms of the way we’re going, I’m pleased that we’re making some progress. It is a work in progress to get the team to hurl with that freedom and abandon that gets them over the line. Certainly by no means are we there yet.
“We’re maybe not as far away from it as people think.”